Shouldn’t Google Be Pushing Google+ On Its Users?

    January 17, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google, who just officially came away from a major antitrust investigation unscathed, is now drawing some criticism in the press over its “requiring” of people to use Google+, or rather having a profile when they sign up for various services like Gmail, YouTube, etc.

Do you have a problem with Google pushing Google+ this aggressively on its users? Let us know in the comments.

I’m not sure what the new revelation here is. Google has been integrating Google+ into just about every facet of its business since it was launched, and has been very clear from the beginning that Google+ is the social layer or “social spine,” if you will, of Google. With that stated (repeatedly) mentality, and last year’s changes to its privacy policy, nobody should be surprised to see Google continue to push Google+ on users. Google has repeated this line over and over again: “Google+ is Google.”

Perhaps more of us need to repeat it to ourselves to get a grasp on the concept. Google+ is Google. Stop thinking about it as just the Facebook rival, and accept that it’s simply part of the fabric of how Google works. And while you’re at it, start thinking about Google’s various products like Drive, Gmail, YouTube, etc. as features of Google. That’s pretty much what the privacy policy says.

It’s somewhat understandable that people who signed up for some of these services long ago, like YouTube, for example, don’t care about Google+. However, to completely dismiss Google+ at this point is to dimiss what Google is now. Google is not a search engine. It’s everything you do online, or at least that’s what it strives to be. It’s not just a Facebook competitor. It’s also an Amazon competitor, a Microsoft competitor, an Apple competitor, a Yelp competitor, a Twitter competitor, a Groupon competitor, etc., etc., etc. By this time next year, who knows what other services that it does not currently compete with it will be competing with?

Google wants to be everything to everyone online. Sure. But this is pretty much the same pattern that many of these other companies are following as well, which makes Google+ all the more important. It’s your identity as a Google user. Google needs users to have identities that work across its products, because these products are essentially features. It would be silly if Facebook required you to have a different identity for your news feed, for photo sharing, for video sharing/watching, for shopping, for search etc. Nobody would expect Facebook to require anything of the sort from its users, so why should it be any different with Google. Facebook and Google are starting from very different places, while ultimately working toward a very similar destination – to be the identity you use to interact online, and yes, to make money off your data. Facebook has arguably done a better job of keeping all of its expanded functionalities under the Facebook.com banner, whereas Google has its offerings more spread out over different domains, which leads to the perception that they’re separate products, when really, it’s all part of Google.

Would anybody really be surprised if Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple take on a similar approach to what Google is doing with Google+, especially as Facebook becomes much more than just your social network? Facebook is known as the social network, but it is already much more than that. Watch Facebook’s continued push into ecommerce, and even into search. People are still waiting for that mysterious Facebook phone that may or may not ever happen. Who knows, a decade from now, Facebook may be competing in the driverless car business. I don’t think anyone expected Google to be in that space a decade ago.

I don’t want to get too crazy with the speculation here. I’m not saying anything in the last paragraph will actually happen, but the point is, Internet giants will increasingly find different angles from which to compete with each other, because users are valuable. Every minute you’re on Facebook is a minute you’re not on Google, regardless of what activity you may be participating in. On the flipside, every minute you’re on Gmail or YouTube or yes, plus.google.com, is a minute you’re on Google.

Amir Efrati at the Wall Street Journal reports that Google CEO Larry Page was pushing the idea of requiring Google users to sign on to their Google+ accounts to view reviews of businesses, according to “people familiar with the matter,” but Google executives persuaded him not to do that, because it would irritate users. They were right, no doubt. That would irritate users. But that also shows how serious Google (and Page, it’s leader, in particular) is about Google+. This isn’t some joke of a social network that Google tries and we forget about a couple years later. This isn’t Google Buzz or Google Wave (no disrespect to those late products). This one’s here to stay. Why? Because…

Google+ is Google. Just as the social functionality of Facebook is Facebook.

So, not happy with Google’s forcing of Google+ down our throats? You better get used to it if you want to be a Google user. To the best of my knowledge, you’re still not required to interact with Google+ the social destination (plus.google.com) to use Gmail, YouTube, search, or other sites. Google isn’t forcing you to share a photo with your circles (although they’re certainly encouraging it). And don’t forget, you had a Google profile long before Google+ came about.

Now that I’ve written all of this, I see that Nicholas Carlson has managed to pretty much say the same thing in a lot less words several hours ago. Kudos.

Should Google not be forcing Google+ on its users? Is it really even forcing it? Share your thoughts.

  • Marc

    Complaining that signing up for Google services forces you to sign up for G+ is like complaining that buying a smart phone forces you to own a camera.

    • Joons

      Excellent point!!

  • Cynthia Marivel Hernandez

    Chris, Nicholas said it in less words because, like many of us, he’s at the end of the rope of this non-sense. You showed a little more passion and rightfully so, many just still don’t get it.

  • http://www.neverpaintagain.co.uk The fella who paints stuff

    Go to a random selection of blogs with sharing buttons. See the share counts one each one, and you will almost certainly find that google + numbers on each example will be a FRACTION of twitter and facebook likes. Google plus is awful, boring, soul-less and full of SEO types and google cheerleaders rather than anyone who most people want to interact with. My prediction for this year is google plus will be discontinued quietly.

    • Marc

      So your assessment is based on who is clicking the share buttons? Well then I guess Twitter is 5 times the size of Facebook because Twitter totally dominates on most of the sites I see.

      G+ button is only a year old and the network is only 18 months old. You are comparing it based on almost 9 years or growth for Facebook and expecting it to have caught up by now? That’s about as smart as comparing a recent graduate student to Warren Buffet and calling him poor.

      Here is some reality for you. Facebook took 4 years to catch Myspace. G+ is 18 months old.

      I guarantee 99%+ of the people commenting here never even hear of Facebook in its first 18 months, yet those same people are convinced that 18 months is enough to pass judgement on Google.

  • http://www.asie.vn Asiaplus Voyages Vietnam

    Google+ and author

  • AlastairMcK

    G+ does what its name suggests – it’s the one ring that binds all the other Google products. This guy puts it quite well…


    Facebook by comparison is ‘standalone’ and has only really been successful because it was ‘first to market’. But it’s the wrong tool for most people. It was designed to find as many connections as it could, so students could get laid. Hence the never-ending privacy issues which have to be retro-addressed in confusing global settings.

    G+ was designed from the start to have dynamic privacy settings you use inline. Just want to talk to me? Create a circle for the two of us. Want to discuss that meal we had last night? Create a ‘Last Supper’ circle with Henry, Jim & Anne. Simples. (And no FB-style risk that Anne’s ex-BF’s sister’s son will see the comments or photos!)

  • KB

    The day I have to sign in to use Google search will be the last day i use Google for anything. I refuse to use their products. Their insistence on owning my privacy and their persistent efforts to acquire my phone number chased me away from gmail. For my part, they are forever demoted back to a search engine, it’s all they can handle. Plus is just More of the Same from these people. I’d advise everyone to step back from Google products, or soon it won’t be possible to use the internet without them owning you. Oh but hey, otherwise, they’re great.

  • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk BlokeToys

    No one should be surprised about this, but no one really has a choice. It’s a private business, they can do what they like within the law and this is not a democratic matter able to be voted on by users. If people don’t like the way Google pushes Google+, people don’t like an ambiguous statement in the T’s and C’s of Instagram, or people don’t like the fact that Facebook sells user data to advertisers, STOP USING THEM.

    I tried to implement Google+ to a couple of my sites way back (anything to please the almighty Google), and it was pointless. I removed it when I saw the lag it was creating in load time, and the fact that no one uses it.

    As another person has said, Google+ is simply full of webmasters who use it because they think it’ll give them an edge – which it doesn’t. It’s been used as a blackmail tool almost, with Google not refuting suggestions that webmasters who implement it into their site will fair better with them. It’s not true, but there are plenty of people out there stupid enough to believe it. That is why it is full of webmasters and SEO practitioners and hardly anyone else.

    Google was too late jumping on the bandwagon, everyone already has everyone they want to connect with on Facebook, they’re not simply going to move over, or even bother to create a new environment on Google+. The only way Google+ will be able to survive is if they create a new method of allowing anonymous groups for various subjects or interests. That is the only thing Facebook is not providing.

    If Google wants to get anywhere with this, it needs to base its social network on the old Yahoo! groups and provide something that people actually want – anonymity, social interaction based on interest, willing involvement in groups based on genuine interest rather than it being thrust upon users.

    I agree with “the fella who paints stuff” (interesting name BTW lol) Google+ is irrelevant and will die out. I don’t think it’ll happen this year, or the even next, but in the next few years it will be silently taken out behind the barn and put to rest.

    • http://www.neverpaintagain.co.uk The fella who paints stuff

      :) Thank you! At least some agrees with me! And yes google should should stick to search and stop trying to poke into ever facet of our lives. Sometimes you have to take 2 steps back to go four steps forward ya know?

      • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk BlokeToys

        I absolutely agree. I already believe that Google is far too powerful for the good of anyone. One little algo change and they can end businesses, or entire industries. They control too much of the online world and in any sane country they would have been hauled up in front of competition regulators a decade ago.

        I read an analogy of Google a little while ago that really hit home for me.
        Can you imagine a gang of masked men going into a restaurant on a high street and telling them to remove all advertizing from their window, change the entire contents of their menu and redesign their floor-plan to their wishes, and if they don’t comply they will stand outside and direct people to another restaurant? This is exactly what Google does.

        No one appointed them guardians of the internet, or quality control. But they now have the power to dictate how people run their businesses, and if you don’t comply with them then they will crush you.

        I’m glad Google+ has failed, I don’t like the power Facebook has, but the idea of Google dominating another aspect of online life and business is truly scary.

        • Marc

          Its interesting how similar these comments are to those about Android in 2010 when the majority of the media were calling it a joke and a failed experiment and people were commenting in droves to agree.

  • http://www.steveblanchard.com Steve Blanchard

    Here’s what people do: Social = Facebook, Search Engine = Google and Google+ is just something you have to get but don’t really use or use because you have to. I don’t think they could ever catch Facebook. Most people don’t even understand how to use Google+ for social. They can boast in as many numbers as they want, but it’s just because people have to and not really want to. I’m really not sure if this will ever balance out.

    When Facebook get search done – it’s just more people staying on Facebook.

    • Marc

      If building a search engine was so easy they’d have done it years ago. Searching on FB is a nightmare. You can’t even search your own posts.

  • Duncan

    Google+ will be redundant in 2 years.

    • http://www.ifu.net.au Doug Willis

      I can give you a couple of great quotes that sound even sillier than this:

      “640 K ought to be enough for anybody.”
      — Bill Gates, 1981

      “The Internet? We are not interested in it”
      — Bill Gates, 1993

      • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk BlokeToys

        The first one was back in a time when data was very limited, and technology was far less advanced. You could move into a small apartment tomorrow and believe you have enough space, then you get a dog, get married, have kids… did you expect Bill Gates to be able to predict the future of technology?

        The second one…
        “We had planned to integrate a Web browser with our operating system as far back as 1993″ Microsoft

        Neither of your quotes, however, change the fact that Google+ is a failed experiment. It has not gained even a minute fraction of the social market it would require to ever become a competitor.

        • Marc

          That’s a great comment except for the total lack of truth. All the recent independent social measuring sticks have G+ ahead of LinkedIn and approaching Twitter based on users and unique visits. Just because you aren’t aware its growing doesn’t make it so.

    • Marc

      I don’t think redundant means what you think it means.

  • Kristine s

    Google is a federally credentialed identity provider for the National Strategies for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace or NSTIC. You are spot on G+ is about identity. Eric Schmidt said it when it launched. G+ is an identity network this the integration. Just Google …Google and NSTIC.

  • http://www.50bubbles.com Greg Newell

    There are four big players with integration strategies. Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. NOT facebook…sorry. Facebook has to worry about its long term viability. Google’s mistake is that its trying to be too facebook-like. Amazon has an amazing insight as to your preferences and buying habits – they have you right where they want you. Microsoft has a toy on every TV known as Xbox and can easily integrate Bing search into their operating system and devices (it’s happening). Kinect can interact with a person better than any other device on the planet too. You want to see a real social network? Imagine a Kinect Universe where the Kinections are just there (I’m just making this up but it seems quite obvious to me). (also notice how similar xbox interface is to windows 8).They (Microsoft) are capturing the youth market if they don’t screw it up. As hardware platforms merge Apple will struggle. They don’t have a gaming platform. They don’t have a social network. They don’t have a search engine. They are too closed and eclectic even after all these years. Apple TV is not the trojan horse I think they wanted it to be…nor Google TV for Google. Microsoft has embraced facebook more than any of the other guys and if successful, this could prove to be the Microsoft+ that Google is trying to create. Just food for thought. I’m not a fan of Google+ but it’s more in the way they’ve rolled it out. You can’t force a platform on your installed base. They have to want it. Google hasn’t figured that out yet. I’m watching Microsoft. Imagine if you could put someone like a Steve Jobs at the head of Microsoft?… just imagine it.

  • http://elainequinn.com Elaine

    As usual Google are stringing us along with G+

  • http://wwfreeads.com geoio

    Everything in the comments is understandable. My opinion – I use Google SE but not G+ (I don’t need it) I do not think they could force me to use G+

  • http://nieuws.openhandel.nl Alexander

    Google needs to make up it’s mind, what do they want with Google+ and whom they want to compete with. If it’s Facebook, then they’ll need to build in privacy options, if it’s LinkedIn then I dunno what’s use of having “anyone” having a profile? Either way, making a whole world have an “open profile”, is never gonna work.

  • Mikelmx

    Why would anyone use Google search when there is BING?

    And, yes we don’t want to create a profile in Google+…

    • Marc

      For the same reason most of us don’t use the Zune.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    For the sake of honesty why doesn’t “Google” change its’ name to “Greedy” and the multi-colors in the logo to just one: green.

    • Marc

      Because most people don’t need clarification that businesses are trying to make money. I suppose Facebook isn’t greedy, they are just really really nice to give you an account.

  • http://www.kentuckyspecialfx.com Mike Bisch

    Google isn’t forcing anything on anyone.
    If you want to play in googles sandbox then you play by they’re rules.
    There are 100 different search engines and options out there.
    Each sandbox has a owner if you want to play in that sandbox you play by they’re rules or you need to leave.
    If you come into my sand box and try to dictate how my sand box will be ran, expect for the sand to swallow you.

    • http://www.rankwatch.com Sahil

      That’s really true Mike. Any search engine for that matter would consider themselves as a business as even they need to generate revenue by providing value back to their users and hence they will or have to promote their own services which provides value to their users, which is fair. To be frank I don’t think Google has overly promoted any of its products to its users yet, if otherwise they could have made the best possible use of the real estate of space that’s available on their home page.

  • http://www.gigspulse.com Stuart

    I actually like G+ and have even created my own G+ page which is very similar to my fbook page. It all helps, and if you google gigspulse.com the first four search pages are about Gigs Pulse, it’s all good.

  • John

    Open profiles are wrong. They ask for trouble, including ID theft. Its all part of the “big society” If you have nothing to hide then whats the problem with giving your information. I say, If I have nothing to hide, what business is it of yours. I value my privacy. To that end. I would make a profile that is acceptable to the requirements of registration, and acceptable to my privacy. Read into that what you will. On-line my alter ego is nearly always a fictional character. A pen name if you would rather call it that. It’s about time people realized that their right to privacy is on the line, and with the advent of cloud computing, cloud operation systems etc, privacy will be all but gone. Resist the cloud.

  • Greg

    Google+ sure has got legs. It’s the big players who win out again though. My concern is that ‘Google Gibbon’ will affect us smaller independent affiliate sites like Panda tried to. G.

  • Troy

    No! Google is power hungry enough as it stands today. They want to link your Youtube, Facebook, and every other account you have almost, along with requesting your cellphone numbers, and permission to use your real name on it’s services nearly everyday even if you choose “No”. When will they wake up and realize that there is the concept of privacy, and that maybe its users would be more appreciative if they actually had the choice on what they did with their information and accounts? Facebook is exponentially more successful than Google+, but you don’t see them trying to request all the information from you like Google… They give that choice to the users at the least. Not to mention, do they not understand the security risks of having linked profiles, or do they just not care? What’s wrong with them..

    • Marc

      Facebook not requesting your information? Priceless.

      And now back to reality…

  • patrick

    I’ve no interest in social networking, and I certainly have no interest in Google+. So being forced to be on google+ just because I use other google services (mail, youtube, android) is extremely annoying.

    • leo

      you are in a social network. the fact you are in the internet, you are part of the network, and the fact you are interacting with other people with comments, it is a social thing. but if this is just a skeleton of what a social network is, you really must see what kind of wonderful a social network google plus is: a network of ideas, comments and most of all people interacting with each other.

      the next time you comment you are not interested in social networking, try not commenting at all.

      • Marc

        That is like saying you don’t takes pictures and your are not a photographer so having a camera in your smart phone is annoying. Come on. Its just a feature like any other. Don’t like it, don’t use it. Its no different than people on Facebook who don’t like games, yet they still have access to those games. The media is just making this double standard into an issue because it gets clicks.

  • http://town-court.com Traffic Court

    If you don’t like it, don’t use Google. There are plenty of other choices.

    Now that I have run my own businesses, I get really irritated by this crap. I’ll be at a restaurant and a friend will say: “They should do it this way.”

    I tell the friend to start up his own damn restaurant and see how hard it is. The friend shuts up, and probably hates me just a little. :-)

  • http://www.koozai.com Steve Logan

    Google needs to push Plus, it’s a social product, and therefore requires a large, active community to thrive. Setting aside issues of data and cashflow, G+ is a decent product and a good alternative to what is already out there.

    Now, how they choose to promote it is entirely up to Google, but going after Gmail users seems a logical choice – after all, it doesn’t take much just to add a picture and a short profile. It is a product that lives and dies on widespread adoption, so being coy about it and hoping people simply move over probably isn’t going to work. As you say, G+ is being integrated into everything that Google does, so it’s really a sink or swim platform for them.

    Maybe they are a little brash, perhaps their intentions aren’t entirely whiter than white, but it’s about time they gave a big push to Plus. You already hand over data to Google every time you sign in, so what’s a little more between friends?

  • http://karras-bommer.blogspot.com Karras Bommer

    Google’s not the one trying to own cyberspace, Facebook is. I can’t count the number of sites I couldn’t visit or comment on because I wouldn’t sign in with Facebook. After 5 years with Google I am totally loyal and pretty darn grateful for all the freebies they’ve given me. And one more thing, research who owns percentages of Facebook. You might find it interesting.

  • http://www.uniqueblogging.com/blog Iteire Apollos

    I don’t really have problem with google plus. but i think facebook and twitter still remain top two social networks.

  • http://www.graciousstore.com Nina

    Unfortunately, the bottom-line is that people/business have to get used to Google’s demand if they want to use Google products.

    • Rachel

      Not really. There are always ways to frustrate Google’s attempts to push their spammier products on People.

      E.g., I use a Firefox add-on called ‘Redirector’ to ensure that I don’t get their annoying “showing results for that thing that you didn’t search for (but that our advertisers paid us to show you)” message whenever I need to use their search engine. I had a historical YouTube account from the days when YouTube was owned by someone else and was actually worth using, but these days I have my cookies set so that YouTube isn’t able to read any other login information from companies that the Google Monster has taken over such as Blogger. When asked to change to my real name, I changed it to a variant of “Phuck Yoo-Goo-Gal”, just to get rid of that annoying nag dialog. Then I changed it back to what it had always been, thereby ensuring I didn’t have to put up with further nagging/stalking. I’ve not used it at all since the Google+ debacle, but if I had to have a Google+ account just to post videos, either I’d close the account or Ms Phuck-You would make her return. I have cookies disabled on google.com itself so that searches aren’t associated with any other account Google may have access to. I would never sign up for Gmail (leaving their dreadful design to one side, who the hell *would* agree to allow Google to pick through their email to find information to advertise to them about?). I have Javascript disabled on google.com so that I don’t get that annoying interrupt-my-typing-to-try-and-finish-my-sentence-for-me thing going on when I’m trying to enter a phrase to search for (though mostly I use DuckDuckGo.com for searches now anyway).

      There are always ways to get around scummy marketing tactics. Because scummy marketers aren’t that intelligent. And the sleazy companies that employ them tend not to attract developers that are smart enough to design systems you can’t hack. The smarter developers are off designing products that they actually care about and can feel proud of. They’ve never designed a dialog with a pre-ticked “please spam me” checkbox or a single “Ask Me Again Later” option in their lives. Google can’t hire talent these days. All they can hire are lawyers and bottom-feeding marketers.

  • Solarn

    I do not use any social networking sites and I do not appreciate a company I’m using for their seach engine, e-mail service and video sharing site foisting one upon me.

  • Rachel

    “nobody should be surprised to see Google continue to push Google+ on users”

    I don’t think anybody has claimed to be “surprised”. ‘Disgusted’, yes, ‘appalled’, absolutely, and annoyed at the gall it takes to design a stalker-ish nag dialog that has the cheek to demand a reason from a limited list when you decline to provide your personal info, then has affront to present a button labelled “Ask Me Again Later” with a notably-absent “Don’t Bother Me Again, Stalker” button to provide some real choice. But “surprised”, no definitely not. Scumbags acting like scumbags is never surprising.

    It is entirely *unsurprising* that a gigantic corporation with access to all the lawyers in the world and a moto (“Don’t be evil”) that reveals their underlying motivational demons more poignantly than any amount of criticism ever could can bend an entire political and judicial system around backwards so that their getting away with forcing unwanted products onto users is rendered entirely the opposite of surprising: predictable.

    That doesn’t make their behaviour right, however. And it doesn’t mean it’s not “evil”, and entirely motivated by a eagerness to sell users’ privacy for the sake of their own greed. They’re a venal company that uses pathetic tactics to nag users into accepting their shoddy products. Companies with real value to offer don’t have to try so hard to push their products on people.